hen life gets in the way, it can be tough to prioritize time alone with your partner. Work obligations, errands, and chores can take you away from one another and too tired to make romantic plans happen. While a big plan like a vacation or an evening out can help you reconnect, you don’t need so much time to help you build intimacy and connection. It’s actually possible to accomplish this with a strategy that costs much less time and money. Enter micro-dates, which are, well, short dates—as few as 10 minutes long.
According to the Gottman Institute, an organization that researches relationship dynamics, the goal of a micro-date is for you and your partner to spend uninterrupted time together with the focus on connection. Whatever activity you may do during a micro-date can take shape in any number of forms, whether sitting together on the couch and drinking coffee, or taking a quick walk around the block to catch up during the day or in the evening.
Read on for how to incorporate micro-dates into your routine, and how they can help strengthen the connection between you and your partner.
How 10-minute micro-dates can help effectively build intimacy
The goal of these mini dates is to build and maintain intimacy, which can take on a number of forms and is the backbone of romantic partnerships. Without regular nurturing and attention, maintaining a level of intimacy in your partnership can fall to the wayside. But at its core, intimacy is about building connection and paying attention to your partner, and micro-dates—which value quality time over quantity of time—can help accomplish this.
“You can’t really have a healthy and stable relationship without intimacy, and we need shared experiences in order for us to feel like it is a relationship [at all],” says therapist Joy Berkheimer, LMFT. Micro-dates provide bite-size opportunities to have such experiences.
Dedicating bite-size time windows with the intention to spend time with your partner is a manageable way to prioritize your relationship and other components of your busy life. To help ensure the time is as fruitful as possible in that short window, Berkheimer recommends conceptualizing micro-dates as a chance to strengthen your friendship with your partner and to learn more about them.
“You can’t really have a healthy and stable relationship without intimacy, and we need shared experiences in order for us to feel like it is a relationship.”—Joy Berkheimer, LMFT
Making time to be together becomes especially important if you have shared responsibilities that pull you away from each other—for example, if you live together or share children or pets. Such a situation is common for couples who’ve been together for a long time. “It’s like you go from being soul mates to roommates,” says Beth Goss, a certified Gottman Educator and Training Specialist for its Bringing Baby Home program. “You got together because you love each other and you have fun together, but sometimes the fun goes away, and it gets replaced with things like unclogging the toilet.”
It’s especially important for established couples to prioritize building intimacy, but newer couples benefit from this, too. The good news is that pretty much any activity can be a micro-date. Ten minutes should be the minimum amount of time you spend on any given micro-date, but if you have additional minutes to dedicate, even better. The point is that any amount of time is beneficial and better than no time at all. Here are some tips to make it go smoothly.
3 tips to make sure your micro-date goes smoothly
1. Pick a date and time
Decide with your partner when to do your micro-date so it doesn’t get pushed aside for other things. Each of you should commit to the practice in your schedule. Eventually, it could become a standing plan.
2. Choose an activity you both enjoy
The options for what you can do during your 10-minute micro-date are endless. Goss suggests taking walks, and Berkheimer takes that a step further by strolling to a local bakery to pick out a treat. More quick ideas might include picking a day to eat breakfast together or listening to music. A micro-date could even be as simple as folding laundry and talking about your day. The key thing is that this time is dedicated to the two of you.
These activities also present the opportunity to bring thoughtful additions to future micro-dates. For example, using the bakery example above, Berkheimer says if you see your partner is eyeing a certain treat, you might pick it up for them later in the week as a surprise, and share it as another micro-date. These little things build joy that becomes a key building block of a great relationship.
3. Go phone-free if possible
Goss recommends striving to make the micro-dates phone-free if possible because phones can be distracting and take you away from your partner. Instead, try to come up with activities that don’t revolve around technology so you can be present with one another.